Creamy Fiddlehead Soup

img_2888

I love soups! While I have a tendency to move away from them a bit in the spring/summer and then return to them as a staple in the fall/winter seasons, I really am for a nice soup just about any day of the week.

Fiddleheads have such a short season- and as such many people tend to freeze their harvest. This soup is excellent using either fresh or previously frozen. Please ensure either way that your fiddleheads have been properly prepared.

Serves:2-3

Time: 40 minutes if using already prepared fiddleheads

You will need:

  • 1 medium large onion diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups of prepared fiddleheads
  • 3 cups veggie broth or chicken broth (I used 3 cups water, 2 tbsp veggie bouillon)
  • 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • snipped fresh herbs, sour cream or parmesan cheese to garnish

Add chopped onion and celery to pot with butter. Allow to cook over medium heat until vegetables are just beginning to brown. Add garlic, and then add broth, deglazing the pan if you have any browned bits to scrape up. Dice potato (I left the skin on, do whatever you prefer) and add to pot. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add fiddleheads and simmer another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and add milk and cream. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Return to low heat until hot, do not vigorously boil!

Garnish with a grating of fresh parmesan or asiago, or a tbsp of sour cream, or some fresh snipped herbs (I used basil, but just about anything you like would be nice!) and serve with some fresh crusty bread.

 

TL’s Simple Sautéed Fiddleheads with Lemon

By Corinne

TL is one of my favourite people to cook with. We often bounce ideas off of each other, and some of the things she’s introduced me to have become go to favourites. TL not only introduced me to fiddleheads – which I had long known about, but hadn’t gotten around to trying- but she prepared them as this lovely simple side.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2- 2 cups prepared fiddleheads – see here for instructions on how to safely prepare fiddleheads for cooking
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic
  • zest of one lemon, plus juice from one wedge
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add butter to pan on med-med high. Add fiddleheads and garlic once butter is melted. Sauté for 10 minutes. You will see the fiddleheads release some of their moisture.

When ready to serve, zest lemon and hit with the juice from a wedge of lemon. If you zest/juice too soon, they will discolour.

Tonight I served them with rice and grilled pork chops that had marinated in beer and drizzled with apricot white balsamic vinegar to finish.

Fiddlehead Omelettes

img_2865

By Corinne

Today I got up early to go birding, it was supposed to be clear, and looked promising at 6am. However, by 7am it had clouded over and was no longer great light for photography. As I was wandering looking for warblers, I noticed a few fiddleheads around. Deciding all was not lost for my morning adventure, I decided to do some foraging.

When I got home I went straight to rinsing and then boiling my fiddleheads. My original idea had been just to pick enough for supper, but since it was a breezy bug free morning I ended up collecting quite a bit. Fiddleheads have a bit of an asparagus/spinach flavour and I thought they would be nice in an omelette. They weren’t just nice, they were amazing! I can’t wait to make this again 🙂

For how to prep fiddleheads for cooking, please see this post here. It is important to properly prepare fiddleheads for eating as they have been associated with food borne illness when not fully cooked.

Time: 15 to 20 min – if using already prepped fiddleheads

Makes: 2 omelettes

You will need:

  • 1 cup boiled fiddle heads – see preparing fiddleheads
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 tbsp grated asiago cheese
  • 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives + more for garnish
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp butter

In a frying pan melt 1 tbsp butter, add previously boiled fiddleheads and garlic. Saute for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk two eggs. Melt 1 tsp of butter in a small frying pan, when melted, but before browned, add eggs slowly to pan, swirling to distribute evenly.

Add 1/2 of the prepared fiddlehead/garlic saute, 3 tbsp grated asiago and 1 tbsp snipped chives. When eggs have just about set, using a spatula, fold omelette in half. Cook a few more min as necessary. Serve with additional snipped chives.

Repeat using the remaining butter, eggs, fiddleheads, cheese and chives for a second omelette.

 

 

Fiddleheads

img_2851By Corinne

There is something especially satisfying about eating things you’ve grown yourself. I find that same sort of satisfaction even when I haven’t grown it myself, but have done the footwork of finding, collecting and preparing something mother nature has provided.

Fiddleheads aren’t an especially northwestern Ontario treat, they grow all over Canada. They are only in season for a few short weeks, making them an easy to miss treat if you aren’t watching out for them.

When foraging, it’s always important to be able to properly identify what you are picking. Most ferns make a ‘fiddlehead’ but not all are edible. The Ostrich fern is the one you are looking for. It’s also important to never pick all of the fiddlheads from a ‘clump’. Only take a few, if you take them all the fern will die.

Ostrich fern fiddleheads have a deep, ”U”-shaped groove on the inside of the smooth stem with thin, brown, paper-like scales covering the newly emerging fiddleheads. The scales fall off as the fiddlehead grows. Bracken fern (a questionably edible species) have fuzzy fiddleheads and lack the “U”. Here is another site with some helpful photos to help with identification, as well as tips for identification at other times of year.

Preparing fiddle heads for eating

  1. Remove as much of the papery covering as you can with your fingers.
  2. Rinse, shaking them up and rubbing off more of the brown papery covering in several changes of cold water. Fiddleheads often grow in sandy soils, so they can be gritty as well.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  4. Health Canada recommends boiling for 15 minutes – many other sources recommend between 7 and 10.
  5. After fiddleheads have been boiled, they are now ready to cook however you are going to prepare them.

To prepare to freeze

  1. Follow steps 1-3 above
  2. You now have two choices, you can blanch them- boil for two minutes then plunge into icy water.
  3. Drain and lay flat on a parchment covered cookie sheet, place into freezer bags when frozen.
  4. If you choose to only blanch them, they STILL MUST be boiled before cooking with them.

OR

You can boil them for the 15 minutes and then plunge into icy water- this way when you go to cook with them you don’t need to do the 15 minute boil.

These fiddle heads have been boiled and are ready to cook with. img_2859

 

 

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

By: Corinne

Inspired by Andrea over at Dishing up the Dirt. I came across this recipe when cauliflower was $6.99 each… I thought I would hold out and wait for the prices to come back down, but then it was up to $7.99 and held steady there for almost two months. I miraculously came upon some for only $3.99 and snapped one up. Cauliflower is not my favourite vegetable, but I do like it roasted and I love lemon anything. While the original recipe is vegan, if you happen to have some extra chicken around and want to use it up it works nicely here,  though this happily exists without any chicken (how I usually make it) as the chickpeas and the quinoa make it quite filling.

I used white quinoa as in the original recipe, but I think this would be even more delightful with whole wheat cous cous- perhaps because I just can’t seem to get on the quinoa train. I just don’t love it and there are some ethical issues surrounding it as well.

You will need:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed, and well drained
  • 1 cup dry quinoa *update- or 1 cup whole wheat cous cous(though obviously cous cous is not gluten free)
  • a few tbsp of flat leaf parsley or cilantro
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1 thai chili pepper)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil- do not use olive oil

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice- juice of about 2 lemons – really, don’t use the bottled stuff for this recipe
  • 2 tsp dijon style mustard
  •  1/4 cup canola oil or if you have a very light tasting olive oil that would work- otherwise the lemon will be overpowered
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic finely diced (I used two, but it was pretty garlicky… which isn’t a BAD thing necessarily…)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar – my lemons were quite sour, taste your dressing and omit as you see fit

Toss cauliflower and chickpeas with oil on your baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili flakes if using. Roast in 450F oven for 20-30 minutes, shaking and flipping around after about 15 minutes until browned on all sides.

Cook 1 cup of quinoa with two cups of chicken or veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Stirring every few minutes until quinoa has absorbed the liquid and is fluffy.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Place some quinoa in a bowl, cauliflower and chickpeas on top, drizzle with a generous amount dressing and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.

Update: Finally tried with couscous! As predicted, like it better 🙂

image

Magic Muffins – Double Chocolate Zucchini

By Julie

Serves:  Makes 12 extra large muffins

Time:  35 min

I thought I posted these on Monday.  Did you know it’s Wednesday?  I didn’t.

So these are healthy… mostly.  A tiny bit of refined sugar here, a little chocolate chip there… there IS whole wheat flour.  And some of the sugar is subbed out for maple syrup.  Oh, and there’s lots of zucchini!

 

 

You Will Need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of zucchini
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Prep

Preheat oven to 350F and grease your muffin pans.  You can use paper liners if you wish, but I prefer the slight crisp on the outside of the muffin when they are baked naked.  This recipe removes easily from the baking pan with just a slight coating of cooking spray.

Mix The Wet Ingredients

Whisk the sugar, eggs, honey, vanilla, and applesauce together in a large bowl until smooth.

Mix The Dry Ingredients

Stir flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

Combine and Bake

Mix the dry into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Fold in the zucchini, and chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 min for extra large muffins (full muffin cups, see picture).  Mine baked for exactly 23 minutes and they were perfect.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

By Corinne

I first made homemade tortillas when I went to visit a friend in the Arctic, because I was cooking dinner and there are a lot of things you just can’t get up there- one of them being tortillas. It only took one time and I was a convert – I haven’t bought tortillas since. This recipe is easy, inexpensive and delicious. You can fill them with anything your heart desires!

Totally inspired by from http://foodess.com/articles/homemade-flour-tortillas/   but with some different instructions.

20160120-DSC_9878

You will need:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix flour and salt, then add water and oil. Knead a few minutes until it’s come together and is smooth and soft, if you need to, add a smidge more flour. Form a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at least 20 minutes. The rest is an important step!

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium/medium low. Divide dough into ten equal sized balls and roll out into thin rounds. The dough is pretty elastic so I find my nice heavy marble rolling pin works great for this. Also, I like NOT flouring my work surface, as the tortilla peels off my counter easily enough, and if it sticks while rolling it’s actually easier to roll thinner. This next step can be done by yourself, but is most fun with a tortilla making partner. When your tortilla is rolled out, carefully lift off work surface and put into pan. Get your partner to take care of the flipping while you roll out the next one. They need about 30 seconds per side – before you flip it it will look like below, a little bubbly and then flip and it should be browned on the other side 🙂

This particular night I went with a mix of veg, chicken, bacon, cheese and ranch dressing with some homemade oven fries on the side.  Pretty basic, yet delicious!

20160120-DSC_9883